, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 19-36

Problem perception, optimism, and related states as a function of time of day (diurnal rhythm) and moderate exercise: Two arousal systems in interaction

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Abstract

Two experiments are described in which perceptions of personal problems, optimism, and associated feelings were studied as a function of time of day and moderate exercise (walking). Over multiweek periods, participants completed self-ratings at fixed times of day representing high and low periods of energetic arousal. While ratings on individual days varied, means across all rating days indicated that problems were perceived as more serious at mid-to late afternoon, a period of low energetic arousal, than they were at late morning and after the walk, periods of high energetic arousal. Separate analyses of rated high energy and low tension states, compared to their opposites, indicated that problems were perceived as least serious in the former states. Ratings of optimism and associated feelings were consistent with the problem ratings. Also discussed are theoretical implications regarding moods as predispositional variables, state-dependent memory, and research involving naturalistic settings and aggregated measurements.